Author Archives: mgrijalva

Japanese Tea Garden

Inside San Mateo’s Central Park is a Japanese garden. Central Park dates back to 1922, but I’m unsure how long the Japanese garden has been a part of it.

The garden was designed by Nagao Sakurai, a landscape architect from Tokyo. It’s a small garden, but it contains all the typical sights from a Japanese garden. It has a large koi pond along with some turtles that occasionally make their way to the rocks to get some sun. It has tea house which I believe is available for private parties. There are several small wooden Bridges that cross the koi pond.

It’s a pleasant place to walk through as it’s adjacent to San Mateo’s downtown district which contains many excellent restaurants. Check out Antoine’s Cookie Shop for some delicious cookies.

The shade under the tree is refreshing on warm days, you can find small Buddha statues placed around the park.

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There is also a nice fountain that creates a stream that feeds into the koi pond. There is a concrete Pagoda near the top of it.

This last shot is obviously not from the garden. It’s a building right next to the garden on the pathway back to the parking lot. I loved the contrast of this rather bland looking building next to a beautiful park.

I’d recommend visiting the park in the spring time as that is when the cherry blossoms are blooming.

One Tree Hill

Cañada College is a community college located in Redwood City, California. It’s situated at the top of a hill overlooking the bay area on one side, and the redwood forest on the other side. It’s a scenic location. Sometimes the fog from Half Moon Bay starts to pour over the mountains like one of those dry ice experiments. It’s beautiful, but not on the day I was there unfortunately.

I was there during the middle of day, and the skies were bright and blue. No fog or beautiful sunsets at the time. It took a while to find the location for the following photo:

It was situated at the edge of the parking lot. I’m not sure if it was still considered the school’s property. The grass was no longer maintained so it was tall and brushy. This tree was growing by itself. The nearest trees were further down the hill, but too get this shot I had to make my way down the hill towards a golf course.

From down the hill I shot upwards towards the tree. This allowed me to get a nice, clean shot of tree by itself. I used a polarizing filter to darken down the sky as it was the middle of day. I think the effect was too strong though. I would have to preferred not to make the polarization so obvious.

Regardless, I’m happy I took the time to wander around the outer parking lots. The last place I looked resulted in the only keeper photo from the day! For Cañada College it’s definitely best to watch the weather and plan your trip as the fog and sunsets can be quite breathtaking at this location. I hope to come back sometime during one of these foggy days.

Seal Point Park

It was a hot and windy day. I visited Seal Point Park in San Mateo, CA. Apparently it is a popular location for windsurfing. I was not aware of this, so I was surprised by the mass amount of constant wind blowing at my back. It also was not the prettiest time of the
year to visit (Doh!). The park was filled with nothing but dead grass and it was a rather
hot spring day. It was the middle of the day too which is typically not the best time for
taking pictures outdoors. Harsh light and strong shadows make it difficult to get pleasing light.

I don’t get a lot of time to take photos. I work full-time, and it’s difficult to get out after a day of work. This is especially true in the winter time when it gets dark at 5 PM. The weekend is typically when I get out to take photos and typically during the middle of the day. This location probably wasn’t the best choice, but the park did contain some interesting sculptures.

Photo of sculpture

Using the sun to my advantage, I was able to use it as a strong back-light. It was a metal sculpture with no paint. Since the material was rather drab by itself I decided to go with black and white. Pulling the cyan and blue brightness down heavily gave it a nice vignetting. I’m usually not a fan of heavy vignettes, but I do like the look when working with black and white. Unfortunately this was the only photo I was able to get out of this location.

Even with disappointing trips like this one I was still able to get something out of it. Trying to find a way to work with what you’ve got is always a good exercise. The challenge of viewing something in a different way, in order to make it more visually interesting, helps expand the possibilities. While Seal Point Park wasn’t the most beautiful park, it was a good experience of making the best of something.